ideas for places to visit, communal space

Find out about the local area and explore the many useful websites that provide up to date information about things to do; whether it is walking and biking, activities for kids or sightseeing around castles, parks, gardens and local towns.

Dinefwr castle & Newton House, Llandeilo (15mins drive)
Dinefwr castle, built in 877, sits in a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve alongside 18th century National Trust owned Newton House. The grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown and enclose a medieval deer park. Plenty to do here, including exploring the boardwalk, pond dipping for families or a bite to eat in the National Trust run cafe.

Carreg Cennen Castle, Trapp, Llandeilo (30mins drive)
The Rough Guide to Wales calls Carreg Cennen ‘the most magnificently sited castle in Wales’. Constructed high on a cliff in 1248, it has its own natural cave. Take a torch to explore! Cafe serves delicious cawl (traditional Welsh broth) and a range of great lunches. There is an interesting walk from the cafe.

Llansteffan Castle (1hr drive)
Llansteffan Castle overlooks Carmarthen Bay at the mouth of the River Tywi (Towy). Park in the beach car park and walk up from the shore. The views are great and when the tide is out you can explore the beach coastline to the west. There’s a little cafe by the car park, great fish and chips from Florries’ cabin and a little playground just by the beach. The Inn at the Sticks also serves great food.

Dryslwyn Castle (25mins drive)
Ruins of 12th century castle high on a hill by the Towy river. Free to visit, picnic benches by the river, beautiful views along the Towy valley. Finish off with a visit to Wrights Food Emporium in nearby Llanarthne for lunch, brunch or supper (see places to eat).

Llyn y Fan Fach (30mins drive)
Steeped in folklore and myths, the Lady of the Lake is still believed to exist in this breathtaking lake. A gentle hour’s walk from the car park to the lake, or you can make it a 3 hour loop.Stop in nearby Myddfai Visitor Centre to warm up with hot chocolate and find out about the physicians of Myddfai.If you’re in the area at 3pm watch the kites being fed at the Red Kite feeding station, Llandeusant.

Talley Abbey, Lakes & woods (10mins drive)
Walk up through woodlands from where you can view the lakes and remains of the abbey. For a refreshing drink on your way back, pop into the tiny Cwmdu Inn, a community-run pub the size of your front room and full of character.

Dolaucothi Goldmines (20mins drive)
Take a guided underground tour to explore the goldmines or try panning for gold. Park in the car park and enjoy a beautiful walk, one of which leads to the Dolaucothi Arms where you can find a great roast (see places to eat).

Poor Man’s Wood (15mins drive)
This local Wildlife Trust nature reserve (like its sister reserve in Castle Woods, Llandeilo) offers a breathtaking bluebell walk in spring. A small circular walk takes you on an adventure in this ancient oak woodland.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales (30mins drive)
Themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse (designed by Norman Foster), tropical butterfly house, play areas and a national nature reserve, all set in a Regency landscape with events and courses throughout the year. Ask us for 2 for 1 entrance vouchers for adults. Pop into nearby Wright’s Food Emporium for coffee and cake afterwards (see places to eat).

Aberglasney Gardens (20mins drive)
One of Wales’ finest gardens. A renowned plantsman’s paradise with a unique Elizabethan cloister garden at its heart, Aberglasney offers the opportunity to explore more than 10 acres of magnificent gardens along with the fully restored ground floor of Aberglasney’s grade II listed mansion.

The coastline of West Wales is blessed with numerous beautiful sandy beaches, coves and bays many of which are award winning.
Here are a few highlights which are worth a visit any time of year.

Just past Carmarthen is Llansteffan beach & estuary (1hr drive).
Walk along the beach at low tide and climb up to explore the castle.

Further south in Carmarthenshire is Pembrey Country Park (1hr drive)
Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Gower Peninsula and overlooking the coastal scenery of Carmarthen Bay, Pembrey Country Park has something to offer everyone including 8 miles of golden sands at Cefn Sidan beach, horse riding, dry slope skiing, playgrounds, miniature steam railway and Wales’ longest toboggan run!

Venture into Pembrokeshire to find the popular seaside town of Tenby (1hr 10mins drive) with its bustling shops, cafes and wine bars. Or explore nearby popular Saundersfoot (1hr drive)

The Gower boasts some of Britain’s most breathtaking beaches, including Rhossili Bay (1.5hrs drive).
Three miles of golden sand, voted into the top four of Britain’s Best Beach by TripAdvisors Travellers’ Choice for four years running AND was the first beach to be awarded Britain’s Best Beach for two years in succession! Visit at low tide and cross the causeway to Worms Head where you may spot seals and sea birds.

Three Cliffs Bay (1hr 15mins drive)
A beautifully wild beach, backed by sand dunes and salt marshes.

Further north, Ceredigion’s Cardigan Bay has some stunning beaches and also the UK’s largest pod of dolphins. Beaches include

Poppit Sands (1hr25mins)
A popular stretch with a large car park and little cafe.

Mwnt (1hr25mins)
This is a particularly beautiful beach. A little off the beaten track, the bay is reached down lots of steps from the National Trust car park on the cliffs. The tiny church is worth a visit and dolphins can often be spotted from these clifftops.

New Quay (1hr10mins)
New Quay is a sweet little town where you can join boats to dolphin spot.

In the summer months head into Cardigan to enjoy food at the popular Pizzatipi (check their website for seasonal opening times).

Adam is a keen MTB rider and is always happy to suggest local trails.

Nearby are:

Brechfa Forest (35mins drive)
The Gorlech Trail (designed by Rowan Sorrell) is made up of three big climbs and descents stretching over its 19km. More progressive riders can also test their full arsenal of skills on the fearsome but thrilling features of the black graded Raven Trail! In contrast, the Derwen Trail is the starting point for families and novices and a great introduction to mountain biking. Unwind after your ride at the nearby Black Lion pub, Abergorlech, where you’ll find a friendly welcome and great food.

Cwm Rheadr (20mins drive)
The Red graded trail runs through a small piece of Forestry Commission land approx 5 miles north of Llandovery just outside the village of Cilycwm. The trail may only be 6.7 kilometres long but it boasts enough wow-factor to make it well worth the trip! Cwm Rheadr means ‘Valley of the waterfall’ and you will see the beautiful falls on your ride. The Neuadd Arms pub, Cilycwm, is highly recommended.

A visit to this area is not complete without a day at Bike Park Wales. Here you’ll find an incredible network of trails for riders of all abilities. Swooping, bermed runs, tight gnarly rock sections, jump trails, drop offs, a pump track and even a family specific loop. Book ahead for the uplift.

There is great bird watching in the area.

Highlights include Dinas RSPB reserve north of Under Starry Skies near Llandovery.(35mins) Allow around 2 hours for the nature trail.

The Red Kite feeding centre at Llandeusant (25mins)
Sit in the specially built hide only feet away from diving birds and observe them competing naturally for the meat provided by the feeding centre.
Around 50 birds may be seen gathering before the feed, soaring high into the sky until they start diving onto their food. In addition to Kites, Buzzards and Ravens may also join in. Birds start to circle before 3pm, which is when they are fed.

There is plenty for families to do locally and further afield.

Dinefwr Park Llandeilo (15 mins drive) National Trust property, offers year round pond dipping and family based activities during school holidays.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines (20 mins drive) National Trust property. Pan for gold or take an underground tour back in time. Also offers family activities during school holidays.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales (30 mins drive) has plenty for families, with a wonderful butterfly house, great playground, zorbing, special arts and crafts activities through school holidays and many other special events.

Colby Woodland Garden, (1 hr drive) run by the National Trust. Go pond dipping in the stream, bring a bbq, try the woodland swing which hangs high over a stream, eat in the cafe and then walk down to Amroth beach (about a 10 min walk), where you can dip your toes in the water, go crabbing in the rockpools or enjoy ice cream.Folly Farm near Tenby (1 hr drive) is a great day out, with farmyard and exoti animals, old fashioned funfair and advernture playgrounds.

Heatherton World of Activities near Tenby (1 hr drive) is a pay-as-you-play all weather activity park with loads to try, including archery, treetops trial, adventure golf, paintballing, go karts, body zorbing and more.

The Dinosaur Park, Tenby (1 hr drive) has a lovely dinosaur trail and plenty of rides, along with indoors and outdoors playgrounds and maze.

Manor Wildlife Park near Tenby (1 hr drive) run by Anna Ryder Richardson, is home to many exotic animals. Meet lemurs and wallabies in the ‘walkthroughs’, visit the Valley of the Apes or African village. There are also playgrounds and a climbing wall.
Ask us for directions to local playgrounds.Treat yourself to some relaxation by booking a massage or reflexology treatments with our friend Sarah from Simply Massage Me. You can visit her treatment room, 10 mins walk from Under Starry Skies or alternatively, Sarah can come to your holiday let. Zen Den in Llandeilo, runs yoga classes and does treatments.

We are lucky to have some great places to eat nearby. Our local pub the Sexton’s Arms, Llansadwrn, offers a very warm welcome and local beers.

There is a local veg box scheme that you can pre-order fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and fair trade foods from, if you fancy doing some cooking.

Llandeilo:

At the Ginhaus a smorgasboard of gins awaits, alongside coffee from locals Coaltown Coffee and great food. A great range of Welsh cheeses, meats and various chutneys and all things delicious are available from the deli.

The Hangout is newly opened, very popular and friendly. Serving great meals (incl lots of vegetarian & vegan options), cakes and good coffee, their brunches are heartily recommended and are perfect before a long walk in the Brecon Beacons!

The Angel is a pub and bistro with good food and great puddings from Heavenly Chocolate Emporium, next door.

Heavenly Chocolate Emporium is definitely worth a visit! A quirky cafe selling award winning ice cream and chocolates.

y Gegin at the Cawdor is a lovely little cafe with tasty sandwiches and small plates.

Llandovery:

The cafe at The Old Printing Office does good coffee, wonderful homemade crumpets and good lunches.

Penygawse Tea Rooms does lunches, cakes and afternoon tea.

Nearby:

Wright’s Food Emporium, Llanarthne (25 mins drive) is a gem! Serving good food and great coffees from Coaltown Coffee

The Forest Arms, Brechfa (30mins drive) is a cosy, welcoming pub serving good food. Combine with a walk in Abergorlech forrest (see mountain biking).

The Dolaucothi Arms, Pumsaint (2o mins drive) is a great pub, serving delicous sunday roasts and good food.

Tasty treats a little further afield:

The Warren, Carmarthen Delicious food, lovely relaxed atmosphere, great selection of drinks.

Pizza Tipi, Cardigan (check for seasonal opening hours) Eat woodfired pizza in a yurt by the river Teifi.

Plum Vanilla Cafe, Narberth Delicious food including great Thalis and sushi.

The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron offers good food in beautiful Aberaeron.

Town and Villages

Villages

There are some unique little villages to stop in as well as the bigger market town a bit further away. Here are our nearest ones and some ideas for supporting local businesses if you’d like to.

Llansadwrn village is less than a mile on foot via footpaths and just under 2 miles to drive there. It’s a very small village with a friendly pub (The Sextons Arms), church, field, playground and community space (The Reading Room) and also some interesting micro businesses dotted around on farms. The village has a lovely sense of community and visitors are given a warm welcome if you go for a stroll on the footpaths or quiet roads. It’s mainly a sheep farming village, but you’ll also see cattle, horses, pigs and alpacas if you look hard enough…

We love supporting our local community and if you are interested in local businesses you could have a look at these suggestions:

  • The Dragons Garden which is just outside the village centre, is a fascinating independent bookshop and market garden set up during lockdown by local resident, Mandy Thomas. You can also buy some Fair Trade goodies and pet the many chickens and horses..perfect.
  • Gardd Sadwrn are local growers who have a veg box scheme selling local or organic veg. You can book one for your visit if you order by the previous Monday.
  • James and Tilla Waters are studio potters based in the village. The studio isn’t open to the public but you can browse their beautiful work online and see how it is inspired by the local landscape.
  • Nellie and Eve is the name of a local natural yarn business (not open to the public). Helen is a spinner who also dyes yarn with plant-based dyes. These beautiful yarns are loved far and wide, not just locally. She also runs workshops which are worth looking out for.
  • Rural Kind are a young couple, Mike and Nia who have a studio for making their bags and accessories in the old school (Hen Ysgol Fach) in the village. They are also refurbishing the school as a home. They aren’t open to the public but it’s worth looking online at their quality, crafted bags made from waxed canvas, leather and brass.

Cwmdu is 4 miles from Under Starry Skies and is even smaller than Llansadwrn but only in size! This unique place was given a new lease of life over 20 years ago when the National Trust purchased the terrace of cottages in the village, giving the lease to the community to run the pub and the shop. The community has gone from strength to strength and they do a great job running this award winning traditional Welsh pub, with weekly Saturday night food events and several festivals throughout the year in their adjacent field. You won’t find anywhere else like it.. all the info on their website or Facebook page.

Llanwrda is 3 miles from Under Starry Skies and is our ‘sister’ village. It is home to an excellent local village store where you can get all the essentials, plus newspapers, local produce and a very warm welcome from Laura and her family. You can walk there along the ‘Roman road’ next to the Sextons Arms which will take about 20-30 minutes. There is also a train station not far from the village.

Talley is 4 miles from Under Starry Skies and is home to the remains of the beautiful Talley Abbey which is free to visit. Talley also has a nice forestry for great walks with lovely views as well as a micro pop-up market on a Sunday Morning from 10am – 1pm. This market was a result of lockdown when local goat farmers and bakers, Cothi Valley couldn’t get their goods to the bigger regional markets. They started selling in this tiny car park and attracted not only queues of customers but also more stall holders selling their local produce. Let’s hope they continue – we love it!

Llangadog is 3 miles from Under Starry Skies and is a busier place with 2 local pubs that serve food as well as a church, Post Office, grocers, a great butchers, and an art gallery/upholstery business called The Last Gallery. It is right on the edge of The Brecon Beacons National Park so there are great walks near here (such as the iron age hill fort Garn Goch)  as well as on the local common where the River Sawdde flows through before it meets the River Towy.

Towns

These are our local towns, each interesting in their own right. They sit in the pretty Towy Valley, with the western Brecon Beacons as their backdrop. Carmarthen is further afield but worth including as the County town with a much wider choice of amenities.

Llandeilo is 8 miles from Under Starry Skies and is an attractive small market town with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and the Towy valley. It is home to the National Trust’s Dinefwr  with its famous white cattle, a deer herd, miles of parkland and footpaths, a beautiful castle ruin, Newton House and a great café! As if that was not enough, Llandeilo is crammed with interesting, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and galleries. It’s an easy place to potter around, have lunch, go for a walk and relax.

Llandovery is 7 miles from Under Starry Skies in the other direction to Llandeilo along the A40. It is a quintessential old Drovers town with a market place, a castle ruin, colourful shops, a Visitors Centre and some large old pub/hotels for great food.  It is also a gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park and a great place to get a real sense of the history of Carmarthenshire, especially the role the Drovers played and how the very first bank was started in the town (the Black Ox Bank which became Lloyds Bank).

Carmarthen is 23 miles from Under Starry Skies and the largest town in the county with a university, hospital and county museum. It is the oldest town in Wales so you’ll find a lot to explore as well as high street shops, retail parks, local markets, galleries and fantastic cafes and restaurants.

Tourism Websites

Discover Carmarthenshire is an excellent site with a vast selection of information on the county’s attractions, places to eat and ideas for day’s out.

Brecon Beacons Explore the wonderful National Park that you can see from Under Starry Skies. Includes information on Dark Skies activities and walking/cycling.

Discover Ceredigion a site where you will find all the exciting things on offer near the Ceredigion coast.

Powys is an often overlooked neighbouring county and even more rural than Carmarthenshire. There are some lovely spa towns to visit and spectacular places like the Elan Valley.

National Trust There are a few NT properties within striking distance including the must-see Dinefwr Park/Newton House in Llandeilo with its famous white cattle herd, the Dolaucothi Goldmines (and forest) 10 miles up the road in Pumpsaint and the stunning Llanerchaeron near Aberaeron in Ceredigion. Explore this site to pick where to visit, near or far.

Cadw looks after historic properties in Wales and has some amazing places to visit. Just down the road there is the beautiful Talley Abbey and within 30 minutes drive you’ll also find Carreg Cennen Castle, Dinefwr Castle and Dryslwyn Castle. More picturesque castles can be found at Llansteffan, Kidwelly, and Laugharne a bit further out from Carmarthen. Llansteffan is a favourite with locals for its lovely estuary beach full of birdlife.

The Heart of Wales Line Use this site to explore what is on offer up and down the 121 miles rural railway line, running slowly through four counties, including stops of Llangadog and Llanwrda which are both about 3 miles away. Use it also to find out more about their unique long-distance walking trail.

Visit Wales is a national tourism site if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the regional ones.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a great day out and only 20 miles from Under Starry Skies. This 400- acre site not only houses impressive gardens and the iconic great glasshouse, it also has a Bird of Prey Centre, a Tropical House, a newly restored parkland, and much more besides. This charitable organisation does a huge amount of work for conservation, education and biodiversity including the Saving Pollinators scheme, all of which you can find out about on your visit.

Aberglasney is a smaller (10 acre) garden worth a visit which is only 12 miles away. It’s a really attractive setting, with many different types of gardens to explore including a ‘Ninfarium’ and a unique Elizabethan Cloister Garden, as well as a nice tea-room and plant shop.

10% off all stays if you arrive by bike, train or electric vehicle.